Fundraising is in full speed for Changing the World One Pedal at a Time, a 2,000-mile bike ride to raise awareness for the organizations of Partners In Development (PID) and Teach For America (TFA). Riding from Fayette, Iowa, to Bridgeport are Dr. Katrina Farren-Eller, UIU assistant professor of English, and Jessica Racine, a former student of Farren-Eller’s at Michigan Technological University.
Peacock Tales first reported on this initiative over a month ago. To find out more, click here.
Changing the World One Pedal at a Time recently got a boost from local establishment, Shiners Bar & Grill in Fayette, Iowa. They have committed to supporting the ride by donating 5 cents for every drink purchased by UIU folks. All that you need to do when you order your food and drinks is to let the waitress know that you are with UIU, and they will do the rest! Shiners has committed to helping us raise money until the end of the ride.
To kick off the fundraiser, everyone is invited to join the UIU community at Shiners tonight, Thursday, March 28, at 5 p.m.
The crew must raise $5000 in 30 days in order to receive any of the pledged money. Visit the campaign page and help make this happen! http://tilt.tc/SDE2
And be sure to check out their web page: http://onepedalatatime.org/
By Randy Thomas, associate professor of accounting for Upper Iowa University
What do you call 700 accountants in Las Vegas? Be kind, as this is not another accountant joke – we are already the object of one too many! The answer is the Institute of Management (IMA) Annual Conference & Exposition. I attended this event with the aid of the Upper Iowa University Summer Faculty Scholarship Stipend, a program that encourages UIU faculty to participate in scholarly activity over the summer.
Conference sessions included several technical topics including an important discussion of the role of FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) and its efforts to work with the IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) to establish International Financial Reporting Standards.
One of the earlier sessions was dedicated to discovering the characteristics of accountants. Clearly accountants have a rich heritage. They have always been an integral part of society, in a position of trust, and used as “change agents”. We explored the time-honored traits people look for in accountants – trust, accuracy, timeliness, competency and business acumen. These traits were demanded as far back as the ancient empires of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Indeed, it is said that if a pharaoh discovered an auditor couldn’t do the job, he was terminated, which at the time meant put to death! Today’s accountants must still possess these five traits, but also master the leadership traits of vision, communication and teamwork.
Leadership has evolved over the past 30-40 years. It is no longer enough that an accountant be really smart. They must also be a great leader of people. The trend in today’s work environment is less directives and more direction supplied by inspiring people and thus the organization! The ideal leader is a visionary, who has knowledge via experience, and a warm personality.
Another session emphasized the need for strong ethics in the accounting profession. It is believed that the future will bring an ever-increasing emphasis on: 1) ethics and control, 2) compliance, 3) transparency, and 4) cost improvements (understanding lean accounting). This session was a great prelude to one of the conferences keynote speakers, Rick Harrison of the popular history channel show Pawn Stars.
Harrison discussed the importance of ethics even in what he acknowledges is traditionally viewed as the “shady-deal” pawn business. This business owner related how he believes that honesty pays. He referred to instances in his show where he informed the selling customer the item was worth far more than they were asking.
Harrison truly believes ethical conduct is essential to his business. He believes news of an honest deal will multiply “4x4x4”, and is convinced word of a bad deal can spread “10x10x10”. This multiplier effect stemming from unethical behavior results in a business growing into “something you really don’t want”. While he didn’t wish to discuss religion, he believes Mother Theresa and Hitler are in different places! This drives his store policy of not handling “evil items” such as Nazi products, even though there is a demand for them in the pawn industry.
One session focused on valuing diversity. We learned that businesses will increasingly be required to serve a global customer base that grows more diverse every day. This requires building an employee team where the values of diversity are inclusive in the work environment and are well understood and fully embraced. It is predicted that customers will trend toward seeking suppliers and dealers that represent the diversity of the marketplace. Thus the ideal work environment of the future will be a place where every person is valued, every voice is heard, and every point of view is respected.
We discussed what business sees as the needs of students graduating today! While most are strong in accounting they need to be stronger in “driving the business and making decisions.” As a result, I plan to adjust UIU’s accounting curriculum to include more business cases. In addition, I will recommend students take optional classes in leadership and supervision. The business world sees a minor in management as an excellent complement to a major in accounting.
Another session discussed was mega trends in cost accounting. It is predicted that cost accounting will be instrumental in providing solutions to the country’s health care cost crisis. An example is that patient data will be used to reduce costly hospital re-admissions. Data currently shows that 30 percent of patients are re-admitted within 30 days. Reducing readmission could save an estimated $17 billion annually.
Another keynote speaker was Stephen M. R. Covey of Franklin Covey. Covey delivered a summary of his book, The Speed of Trust. He revealed trust as the hidden variable that can be a person’s greatest strength and fuel key strategic goals. Trust was presented as an economic driver, rather than merely a social virtue. Covey calls it the number one competency of leadership today. Trust, and the ability to create it, was claimed to be a learnable competency.
To prove his point he asked that we think first of a person we trust and next of a person we do not trust. Next, we considered the differences in working with these two individuals. We all agreed on the extremes in terms of the ability to: communicate, getting things done, and how long it takes to get results.
The speaker claims that trust equals confidence. And that the opposite is distrust and suspicion. Trust involves both character and competence. Smart trust means both a high propensity to trust and equally high analysis. He noted that accountants love the analysis part! As accountants, we need to both trust and verify. We are good at measuring trusting too much, but not as good at measuring the cost of not trusting enough!
Finally he discussed two formulas. The trust tax means that low trust equals low speed and high cost. An example is the results from our distrust of air travel after September 11, 2001. The trust dividend means high trust yields high speed and low cost. This represents the benefit received from trusted co-workers.
Another session covered credibility, which was defined as the calling card of a professional. The components of credibility – character, competence and current performance – were compared to the parts of a fruit tree.
The tree’s roots are character. They are made up of integrity and intent. It was explained that integrity requires both humility and courage. Intent is when you care about the folks you do business with letthem know it. Your “tree roots” need to show the integrity that you seek a win-win, mutual benefit. And you need to declare your intent by giving the why as well as the what.
The tree itself is competence. This is the capability and relevance you maintain. A group like IMA does that via continuous improvement. You must even re-invent yourself if necessary.
Finally the fruit of the tree is our current performance. Yes, our results, both past and current matter! When there is a trend of good results people believe in you. The trust in the accounting profession comes from showing results.
As you can see, this conference “jump starts” the management accountant to insure they are progressing in the right direction for both the benefit of their firm and the continued prestige in the management accounting profession. One final treat I enjoyed was the acceptance of our ninth-place (out of 100 chapters) banner for the 2011-12 year for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls chapter of the IMA.
UIU will summarize additional stories about how faculty spent their summer stipends in the next issue of The Bridge, due out in February. The complete stories can be viewed at http://www.uiu.edu/facultystaff/summerstipend/index.html
Upper Iowa University faculty and students are putting the tenets of global citizenship into practice this semester as they work hand-in-hand across the country with high school students in Bridgeport, Conn.
Together, they are planning a 1,700-mile bike ride and raising awareness for the organizations of Partners In Development (PID) and Teach For America (TFA). Their mantra is: “Changing the world one pedal at a time.”
Riding from Fayette, Iowa, to Bridgeport are Dr. Katrina Farren-Eller, UIU assistant professor of English, and Jessica Racine, a former student of Farren-Eller’s at Michigan Technological University. Racine was selected by Teach For America for a position as a ninth-grade science educator at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport. Teach For America is a competitive program that pairs educators with schools in the United States where poverty and other demographics make it difficult for students to be actively engaged at school. Many drop out and do not plan to attend college.
Taking an active role as an educator, Racine very much wants to present opportunities to her students that will help engage them globally, as well as provide them with a glimpse of college life.
At UIU, Farren-Eller, along with Dr. Melissa Maier, assistant professor of communications, is hoping to do something similar. “We want Upper Iowa students to experience the joys of giving back to the global community,” said Farren-Eller. “This project has several long-term goals, which we hope will make a positive impact in the lives of so many people.”
UIU ENACTUS and Communications Club students will work with the Warren Harding students through a mentor/mentee relationship with the main goal of assisting Farren-Eller and Racine plan their bike ride to raise awareness and funding for PID and TFA. This relationship will foster so much more, Farren-Eller hopes.
“We want to establish a higher learning scholarship program for these high school students, as well as a long-term mentoring relationship between UIU and Warren Harding High School,” she said. “Hopefully our college students will become inspired and these high schoolers will get excited about community service and the world around them.”
To coordinate the bike ride, the high school students will be in charge of planning the route and scheduling events at key stops along the route that gives Farren-Eller and Racine the opportunity to engage people in talking about the work PID does in Guatemala and Haiti, as well as raise and sustain awareness for TFA.
In May, Farren-Eller will travel with Dr. Gina Kuker, UIU associate professor of education, and a handful of UIU students to Guatemala to work with the non-governmental organization. PID strives to help the extreme poor attain independence and whole life improvement. Previous work by PID has been conducted in Haiti, where Farren-Eller and her husband, Dr. Eric Eller, UIU associate professor of international business, as well as several UIU students have volunteered over the past four years during May term. Through child sponsorships, small business loans, housing opportunities and medical care, PID aims to transform communities so they can be self-sufficient.
What UIU and PID do in Haiti is of particular interest to Racine’s students as several are first generation Haitian Americans. The connection between them and the island nation helps engage them in the project more readily. Part of their assignment, in addition to planning, includes researching and writing about Haiti, putting a committee together to develop T-shirt and web site designs, fundraising and contacting the newspapers of the towns Farren-Eller and Racine will ride through. They will also develop a video diary of what life is like for them in Bridgeport.
“Jess and I are so excited about this! We want people to ride with us, even if it is just for the day,” said Farren-Eller. “This will not be a pleasure trip! We will be biking 75 plus miles a day, camping and not eating a whole lot of expensive food. It’s going to be bare-bones so that most of the money raised can be donated to PID.”
The pair leaves from Fayette, Iowa, July 8 and is expected to take about a month before they reach their destination in Bridgeport. They are also scheduling a stop at PID headquarters in Ipswich, Mass.
To support their endeavor, contact Farren-Eller at firstname.lastname@example.org or Racine at email@example.com.
The project’s progress can also be followed by logging on to: https://sites.google.com/a/mtu.edu/uiuhaiti/home